Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Numbers, Signs of the Times, Misc

Tuesday morning is garbage day for us. (Maybe we need a new name for it, something more hopeful, positive.) As I was getting into my car to drive into work that day this week, I noticed something I haven't seen often since living in NY--bottle-pickers. Two guys were working the recycling bins on our street, pulling out the deposit containers and putting them in large black bags in the back of a small pickup. It's just the two of us, so we don't put our recycling container out every week, including this one. I was in my car, turning the key, and decided to practice tuning into my impulses more, particularly the inklings to be more generous. So I went back into the house, gathered all of our redemption-worthy cans and bottles and gave it to the guys. Wasn't sure if they'd be receptive, but they seemed happy to get the fifty cents or so.

We're thinking about refinancing our mortgage. The rates are low. Should we get money out to put into a down payment for a new place? Seems like now is the time to buy. Or just hunker down with a lower monthly commitment? Would we even be granted another mortgage? The debate continues.

Originally uploaded by suzipaw
It was a rewarding but labor intensive culinary experience on Sunday afternoon. Baked ziti, ciabatta, many hours in the making. M crafted baked chicken breasts with a pan reduction sauce, his new interest. It was quite the dance the two of us had to perform in our tiny kitchen and we had to wash dishes in the middle of it, just not enough room in there for all of us.

Romance novel word count: 13,289. We wrote with Rebecca on Sunday morning. It was so good to see her up and about.

I don't know how many inches of rain we've been dazzled with lately, but it's been a lot. Maybe not enough, but it's a good start.

This morning before gym class, I was trying to be friendly and joined a conversation with a gal who was lamenting that she had just been let go after ten months at a temporary job. She was just beginning her career, she noted, and they had hired someone with more experience who was willing to work for a lower wage. "My husband is in the same boat," I sympathized. What did she do? I inquired. You guessed it: Attorney was her reply. So is my husband! I tried to sound enthusiastic, but here was out and out competition. Did she go to Empire? I tried to continue the conversation. Was that a dismissive note in her no? And where did that chill wind suddenly spring from?

We'll watch our last disc of The Wire this week. I'm sorry we'll be done with the series, it's like we'll be moving out of Balmer.

Finally, a shout-out to Mark on his new job at Mobywrap!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Farewell, Fave Thrift Store

I was devastated to read the sign posted at door to my favorite Salvation Army store this afternoon: today was their last day in business! I always had good luck at that store. My farewell tour around the few remaining racks of clothes, shelves of books, and sad table of household odds and ends was no exception. I walked out with three tops and a hobnail milkglass ashtray that's big enough to serve as a saucer for one of my houseplants for a buck and a half. Sigh. I had to console myself with an exploratory visit to the fresh doughnut place across the street (only OK for the old fashioned, but superior marks for the plain cake--now I don't have to wait for the Wilbur sojourns to get my donut fix. Though that may not be a good thing…).

Guess there's nothing for it but to search for a new favorite thrift store.

In other random news:

Thursday was my ninth work anniversary. My, how time flies. Sorry I don't have anything more than a platitude to share about that milestone at this point in the weekend. Veronica meowing for her evening tuna is distracting me. Well, OK, it's been a learning experience, with the positives and negatives that often accompanies that sort of thing. Sorry, I guess that's not much better, is it?

Weekend culinary inspirations, thanks to Cooks Illustrated: ciabatta and "emergency" chocolate cake (an update of the WWII ration recipe).

Looking forward to hearing more from Rebecca about her surgery--we're meeting for writing time tomorrow. Will we actually write or will we just blab? And I need to post a word count for the novel soon...

It didn't rain today like it was supposed to. Which is good and bad. Good, because it made housework more bearable. Bad because, well, we need it.

Confidential (not really) to Kam: it's been an impacted work week, unconducive to blogging. I too have the FB-usurping-the-blogging fear. We must rage, rage against the dying of the light.

OK, off to stir the shallots and prepare for a few episodes of "Flight of the Conchords."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Heart*

Rex, oak
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
We drove up the coast to Gualala yesterday to fetch Rex and had lunch there with Mom and Don. It was good to see them, a nice Valentine's Day treat, and Rex seemed happy to see us. (There were unusually large flocks of seagulls at Jenner and at the river mouth just outside the windows of the restaurant where we ate and it put me in mind of "The Birds." Very disconcerting. Glad we weren't driving home through Bodega, where the movie was filmed.)

Instead, we took a narrow windy road over the mountains home, which was a pleasant change of pace. It was all green and gray: storm clouds thick overhead, bare oaks branches tinseled with silvery green moss, their trunks wearing a luxurious grass colored version, contrasting with the evergreen stands of redwoods. Shocks of pink and white fruit tree blossoms stood out near the few homes along the way. As we drew closer to the main highway, bright yellow canals of mustard flowed in between the twisty black grape stumps in the old vineyards. I'm lucky to be in a place with such amazing landscapes.

While he was glad to see us, I think Rex is very sad to not be up on the coast with his grandparents anymore. Apparently he was feted with wieners, turkey, and walks on the beach just about every day he was there. How can we compete with that? Except for perking up when Veronica was served her evening tuna, he remained curled in a tight ball on the bed all afternoon and evening. M and I will be gone for quite awhile today (he has job applications to work on, I've got that novel thing) and I know that won't help his melancholy. Ah well.

*You may remember this as Rex's theme song.


Rebecca is home from her surgery and on the mend! The procedure went very well and the recipient is also recovering well. I'm so awed and inspired by her generosity. Get well soon!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

25 Random Things, Now Blogged!

There's been a meme zinging around Facebook--listing 25 things about yourself and then tagging 25 friends to do the same. It felt somewhat annoying, so I resisted, but I finally gave in because I've enjoyed reading other people's lists, and it was an interesting exercise to think about what to include and what to leave out. So for those of you not my FB friends, here it is. And if you'd like to reciprocate, know that I'd like to read your list, but I'll understand if you don't want to join in.

1. I'm a Pastafarian.

2. College job sampler: car wash cashier, apprentice in a stained glass studio, preschool snack and playdoh prepper, life model, box office staffer, trash wrangler at a Ren Faire.

3. Happily child-free. Growing up, I sort of assumed that I would be a parent, but in practice, that alarm clock just never rang for me. Thank god the questions have trickled off now that I'm exiting my child-bearing years.

4. Card carrying member of the Cougar Club (hubby is nine years younger).

5. I miss volunteering at our local performing arts center and hope I'll have the time to start doing it again. My usher outfit is gathering dust.

6. I have many close, longtime friends, but I don't have a BFF, much to my dismay (no, my husband is not my best friend).

7. I've always considered myself a cat person, but since we adopted Rex, I've realized I'm ambi-faunal.

8. Speaking of Rex: His nickname is the barnacle because he seems to attach himself to me at night as we sleep. Sorry if that grosses you out, but I've come to terms with that preference and I hope you will too.

9. Eggs. I acknowledge and admire their place in the culinary firmament, but no food is more revolting to me in its pure form. Just thinking about fried eggs makes me feel squinchy.

10. Childhood obsession: horses.

11. Childhood crushes: Elvis, Paul (or was it George?), Donny. And my brother's best friend, Noel Hankla (whom I ran into once when I was in college, on a city bus of all places--very odd. He was still hawt. Hm, I wonder if he's on FB?)

12. Of all household chores, dusting is my most-loathed. And it shows.

13. I have my very own craft room that houses my yarn, beads, glass, buttons, paper, fabric, and attendant tools for all of the aforementioned items. (Veronica spends most of her time in there, so it also contains a fair amount of loose fur and is alternately known as the Cat Room.)

14. I remain hopeful that one day I will be in possession of a two carat emerald cut solitaire diamond ring.

15. I love the idea of entertaining, but I blame my tiny, eyesore of a home on why I don't do it much, rather than my introversion.

16. I don't shop to relax as much as I used to. Except for thrift store shopping, which has fueled a bad habit of telling people how much (or rather, how little!) I paid for items that they compliment me on.

17. Two movies I *must* watch at least once a year: The Quiet Man and It's a Wonderful Life. I see new things every time I watch them. I also love movie musicals and wish they would make more of them. Maybe Mamma Mia and Flight of the Conchords will encourage an industry trend.

18. Favorite food experiences: the first time I tried roasted garlic; the first time I tried fresh mozzarella; and my trip to Lesbos when I was 21--traveling to a foreign country really opened my mouth.

19. Of all of the places where I've lived since being born in Minot, ND (San Bernardino, Aptos, Long Beach, Manchester in CA; Sarasota, FL; and Manhattan), the place where I live now is the best for me.

20. Still not sure if I believe in luck or not. Ditto god.

21. I possess every single issue of Martha Stewart Living. I used to have all of the Weddings issues too, but I've started giving them away.

22. Best celeb sighting? Jackie O--we used the Lincoln Center ladies room at the same time during Spalding Gray's performance of Monster in a Box.

23. The moniker item: My Spice Girls name is Crunchy Spice, which was accurate when I lived in NY, but is hardly appropriate in the uber granola county where I currently reside. I have also been known as Pepper and Raya. My husband and I (and only my husband and I) call each other Paw.

24. One of my biggest regrets? Not keeping some sort of journal during my dozen years of living in New York. I have a lot of scrapbook-y items, but the narrative and context are lost (cue Springsteen's Glory Days).

25. When my husband started law school, he convinced me to get rid of the TV and that has been one of our smartest joint decisions ever. Aside from getting married.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adieu, New York

I write this from my room on the 17th floor of the Marriott, almost ready for a last stroll around the city, visiting my friends at Martha Stewart and maybe a peek into the Public Library before heading out to JFK and the flight home. I'm ready to be home, but it's been a wonderful trip:

M and I arrived Thursday evening, getting to Kam's apartment about 8:00 p.m. Despite the hour and chill, Eliza was up for going down to the Village with us to have dinner. The cold made our wander around for a likely restaurant a bit uncomfortable, but it was good to be out and about. We slept late the next day, and then the three of us headed out into the teeth of the wind again to the South Street Seaport, along Wall Street to the Battery, then up through TriBeCa to Marie Belle chocolate shop to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate before heading back uptown to Sara and Chandran's, where Kam joined us for a lovely dinner.

Saturday we were back at S&C's for a pancake brunch with a passel of Chiara's friends, part of her birthday celebration. Then we split up, Sara taking the girls to a movie, the men heading out to the Natural History Museum, and Kam and I taking in the Met. We had hoped to see the exhibit celebrating Philippe de Montebello's retirement, but that had closed, and my traditional trek to the costume area was also thwarted. But there were plenty of other exhibits to see, and we had a great time.

We reunited at Kam's, then M and I checked into the Marriott in the afternoon. We had dinner in Hell's Kitchen (or Clinton Hill as a local corrected M as we wandered down the street back to the hotel) and made it an early night. Which helped our early morning sojourn down to the East Village and our old neighborhood. We breakfasted at Veselka, where I had banana buckwheat pancakes, one of the same meals I enjoyed when I first moved to NY lo these many years ago. M and I strolled uptown, stopping in Union Square, shopping at Fishs Eddy, and through Madison Square to Curry Hill (where I did not eat this trip to get my south Indian fix, sadly--next time…) We had lunch at Sara and Chandran's and said our goodbyes for this visit. M met up with an old friend, while I started work. It was a late night for me, but it was good to get the conference underway (it went very well, thank goodness).

M and I had one last dinner together Monday night. He left early Tuesday morning, and I was sad to see him go. It was nice to be on a trip for once and not miss him the whole time. And it was really wonderful being in New York together again. Tuesday was another long work day as was yesterday, but it ended well: I had a great extended dinner with my friend Cathleen, who had come to the conference too.

OK, time to hit the streets one last time…


At JFK, waiting out a mechanical delay. I thought it was high winds, but no. Not sure which is worse. Hopefully we'll be only an hour later.

Some observations about New York this visit:

Subway fashions as always were very entertaining. It is winter, but boots were popular, mostly low heeled and slouchy.

I ate good restaurant food, but nothing spectacular this trip. Although the hot chocolate was pretty amazing. I stuck my head into Babbo when M, Eliza, and I were trekking around downtown, but it was packed, so I didn't even bother to ask. Cathleen and I resolved to try for Babbo again next time.

I forgot to mention that between the Battery and the hot chocolate, our path crossed the World Trade Center site. It was a little discouraging to see that it's still a huge hole in the ground. It was almost like the construction site has become the attraction and the memorial. We also went into Trinity church on that walk, which is lovely. And smelled good. We tried to peek into the Woolworth Building, but tourists are now prohibited there, such a shame.

Grand Central station is still beautiful. I wish all buildings could be crafted with such care and attention to detail.

I did not run into anyone I knew serendipitously, which is too bad. I always enjoy that.

I loved watching the working women in Midtown this morning, on their way to meetings in their fashionable clothing and high heels, beautifully wrought scarves bundled around their necks.

So many happenings in that town, it's amazing what it can accommodate. The Westminster dog show, Fashion Week, Chinese New Year, to name just a few. I saw the huge white tents squatting in Bryant Park for Fashion Week and watched the dog show on TV. M and I toyed with the idea of going, but petered out.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Made it to NY

It was a travel day for M and me yesterday, but we arrived safely and relatively on time. Cousin Eliza was a trooper and joined us for subway trip down to the Village where a chilled wander cross town led us to a hip Asian place for dinner. We all slept late. I'm checking for work fires and downing a latte as M and Eliza are rousing. I think today will be the Seaport, then dinner with Sara, Chan, and kids. I'm getting the sniffles, boo! OK, a few more messages to delete from the inbox and then we're off to more adventures.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superbowl Sunday

ear warmer for the NY trip
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Finished the ear warmer. This is actually the second attempt, the first one being too narrow. (Its new designation is a hair band.) M told me about four inches in that he didn't think it would work for his head, so I'll be the one wearing it in NY. And he'll be jealous as his little ears grow chillier and chillier. Especially since the extent of his proposed activities consist of walking around the old haunts and maybe taking the Staten Island ferry, in addition to visiting with family. Well, maybe I'll let him borrow it, if he asks.

I realized that part of why I'm so looking forward to this particular trip to NY is precisely that I'll be with M. He hasn't been back since we moved away a decade ago, and it will be interesting to see the changes through his eyes. And it's also the city where we fell in love, so I have that wonderful association.

As I was leaving the office on Friday evening, I felt like I was inhaling spring as I exited the building. It's about 70 degrees outside now. I love it, but it doesn't feel right somehow. I also love how the days are getting longer. That, I could live with year round.

M and I are getting ready to go to a sports bar to watch the Superbowl. Since we don't have strong feelings for either team, we're just hoping for a good game. I'm generally not a fan of sports bars, but since the idea is to watch the game, it should be the right place to go. If not, we'll decamp for another spot around the second quarter. I admit to wanting to watch The Boss' halftime show. And despite the beauty of the day that I've squandered indoors, I'm looking to escape the Sunday blues.